Switzerland to Resettle Uighur Brothers from Guantanamo

Switzerland has agreed to accept two Uighur brothers who have been held in legal limbo in the Guantanamo Bay detention center since 2002. From the Washington Post:

In accepting the brothers, the Swiss government resisted diplomatic pressure from China and opposition within the Swiss parliament.

Once the transfer is complete, five Uighurs will remain in U.S. custody. At one point, the Guantanamo Bay prison held 22 Uighurs, who are not enemies of the United States but are considered terrorists by Beijing.

Some in Switzerland argued against accepting the brothers, saying they posed a security threat. But Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters Wednesday that the government, which had access to their classified files, reached a different conclusion.

“In the end, the final factor was not economic and diplomatic relations,” she said. “We decided to base our decision on Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition.”

Five more Uighurs, out of an original group of 22, remain in Guantanamo. From AFP:

Obama, who took office pledging to close down the camp, thought the Uighurs would be the easiest cases. But US lawmakers prevented efforts to free them in the United States and China has pressured other nations not to accept them.

Uighur inmates earlier found homes in the disparate nations of Albania, Bermuda and Palau.

Palau, an archipelago in the Pacific, has accepted six of the inmates and offered to accept all who remain. But the prisoners have hesitated, preferring a location with a Uighur community.

February 3, 2010 9:59 PM
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